Fox Chicago plays fast and loose with Nancy Loo

March 8, 2010

When WFLD-Channel 32 announced the hiring of Dawn Hasbrouck as noon news anchor, the Fox-owned station went out of its way to tell the world that Nancy Loo, the woman who'd be losing her anchor seat, would be kept on as a general assignment reporter. They said it to me. They said it to Phil Rosenthal. They even said it in a press release posted on their own website.

They lied.


Nancy Loo

Barely three weeks after Hasbrouck signed on, Channel 32 has told Loo that her days as a reporter at the station are numbered. Insiders say that her contract won't be renewed when it expires next month. She could be gone even sooner.

I can't say that it comes as a surprise, since I did write at the time of her demotion: "Considering how [Loo's] role was diminished earlier by former news director Andrew Finlayson and now by news director Carol Fowler, the handwriting may be on the wall." But rarely have I seen such duplicity by a television station in its public statements.

When she first joined Channel 32 in 2001 from WABC-TV in New York, Loo was considered a rising star and likely successor to Tamron Hall as the station's top morning news anchor. But somewhere along the way, she fell out of favor and was passed over in favor of Jan Jeffcoat, an outsider from KRIV-TV in Houston, who replaced Hall in 2007.

In her only public comment after losing her anchor gig, Loo wrote:

"It's been a bad week. ‚ . . . There's really not much I can say about that at this point. . . . I'll never be able to respond to the hundreds of messages and emails I've received. . . .‚ Wow! ‚ Thank you from the bottom of my heart."

What's next for Loo? She recently joined the parade of bloggers on Chicago Now, after years of blogging on her own and spreading the gospel of social media. On Wednesday, she'll reunite with former Channel 32 sports anchor Bruce Wolf in filling in for morning hosts Don and Roma Wade on Citadel Broadcasting news/talk WLS-AM (890).

Robservations on the media beat:

  • Michael Fowler, the Chicago radio veteran who was forced out last January after two years as president and general manager of Citadel Broadcasting news/talk WLS-AM (890) and oldies WLS-FM (94.7), has landed right back at 190 N. State St. On Monday, he's expected to be named director of sales for ESPN Radio sports/talk WMVP-AM (1000). Fowler will succeed John Cravens, who was promoted to president and general manager. ESPN Radio 1000 occupies studios and offices on the seventh floor of the ABC Building at State and Lake --  just under the two floors of WLS-AM/FM.
  • Readers of this blog knew all about it last Wednesday, but look for Salem Communications to announce the hiring this week of Amy Jacobson as Big John Howell's morning co-host on news/talk WIND-AM (560). "The Big John and Amy Show" is expected to start the week of March 22. Promoted to replace Jacobson as midday news anchor and reporter at WLS is Monica DeSantis.
  • The Tribune has Tom Skilling. The Sun-Times has Brant Miller. And now the Northwest Herald of McHenry County has Amy Freeze. The Channel 32 chief meteorologist this week will begin appearing on the suburban daily's weather page as part of a new partnership agreement with Fox Chicago News.
  • Haven't had enough of the Oscars? Can't get enough of Oprah? You're in luck: Chicago's talk show queen will host "Oprah's Annual After-Oscar Party" from 3 to 4 p.m. today on ABC-owned WLS-Channel 7. (It'll preempt "Inside Edition" and "Jeopardy!") The sixth annual special will originate from the Kodak Theatre in Los Angeles.
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